With seven years to the 2015 review deadline for Millennium Development Goal (MDG) #5 for reduction of maternal mortality, Southern Sudan has posted the highest maternal mortality ratio in the world standing at a staggering 2,054 deaths for every 100,000 live births. Southern Sudan has hardly any midwifery workforce to provide skilled attendance at birth or referral to effective obstetric emergency response when needed. An analysis conducted in 2007 revealed that there were only eight professional midwives in the whole of Southern Sudan. A year later, 37 community midwives, the first ever to undergo a formal midwifery education in Southern Sudan, graduated in 2008. Currently there are only 23 other student community midwives in training. These numbers are grossly inadequate for the country to respond to the highest maternal and neonatal mortality ratios in the world. Investing in professional midwives by developing the foundations for a sustainable and effective midwifery workforce in Southern Sudan is long overdue.
Taking the vision forward
The UNFPA/ICM initiative aims to take this vision forward and to secure the highest political commitment and strategic support for investing in professional midwifery in Southern Sudan; therefore over the threeday period 13-16 May 2009 the UNFPA Southern Sudan programme and the International Confederation of Midwives, in collaboration with the Government of Southern Sudan, launched the programme 'Investing in Midwives' under the theme 'Southern Sudan needs midwives now more than ever'.
On day one, the ICM/UNFPA/Moll GOSS Directorate of Nursing and Midwifery comprising Dr Jemima Dennis-Antwi (ICM Regional Advisor for Anglophone Africa), Dr Dragudi Buwa (Head of UNFPA in Southern Sudan), Magda Armah (RHProgram Specialist,UNFPA) and Janet Michaels (Director-General for Nursing and Midwifery-Moll) held a press conference to advocate for access to midwifery care for every pregnant woman, nursing mother and newborn in Southern Sudan. The team, led by Dr Dragudi Buwa, met separately with HE the Vice President, Lt Gen Dr Riak Machar Teny and later with Ministers, HE Dr Luka Monoja, Minister for Cabinet Affairs, HE Dr Monytueil Weijang, Minister of Health, HE Mary Kiden Kimbo, Minister for Gender, Social Welfare and Religious Affairs, HE Prof Job Dhurai, Minister of Education, and HE Madam Rebecca Garang de Mabior, Presidential Advisor on Gender and Human Rights (Immediate Past First Lady). These...